Jack Charlton, an uncompromising central defender who played alongside his brother, Bobby, on the England side, World Cup winner in 1966, before enjoying success with Ireland, has died. He was 85 years old.
Nicknamed “Big Jack” and celebrated for his earthy image of “beer and cigarettes”, Charlton was footballer of the year in England in 1967. He spent his entire club career in Leeds from 1952 to 1973, breaking his record 773. appearances. He won all national honors, including the title of champion in 1969.
Charlton died at home on Friday in his native Northumberland in the north-east of England, surrounded by his family.
“Besides being a friend for many, he was a very beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” the family said in a statement. “We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he has led and the pleasure he has brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.
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“He was a really honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people. His loss will leave a huge hole in all of our lives, but we are grateful for a lifetime of happy memories. ”
The England team’s Twitter account said, “We are devastated.”
His greatest success came with the national team which defeated Germany 4-2 after an overtime in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
Bobby, his younger brother, played in the midfield. Jack celebrated the victory by partying in the house of a random person in North London, eventually sleeping on the floor. It was typical of the man who kept in touch despite his fame and remained an affable character, fond of the simple pleasures of life.
“I took an elevator the next morning and my mom was playing hell because I hadn’t been in bed all night,” recalls Charlton. “I said, ‘Mother, we just won the World Cup! »»
Charlton played 35 games with England between 1965 and 1970, also playing in the 1968 European Championship and the 1970 World Cup. Very different player from Bobby, who was once the top scorer of all time for the ‘England and Manchester United, Jack was in the shadow of his brother during his playing career.
It was obvious from an early age that Bobby “was going to play for England and would be a great player,” recalls Jack in a BBC interview in 1997. “He was strong, left and right, good balance, good skills . He had everything, our child. I was over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. Leggy. A giraffe, when I ended up being called. ”
Of all the World Cup winners to head, Jack Charlton is by far the most successful. He had brief but impressive periods in the clubs north-east of Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle before being hired by Ireland in 1986 as the first foreign coach.
Adopting a straightforward, physical, attack-oriented style, Charlton made the most of hard-working Irish players and guided them to three major tournaments, including the 1990 World Cup where the Irish reached the quarter-finals . Ireland also competed in Euro 1988 and the 1994 World Cup under Charlton.
“You advance the ball, you compete, you close people, you create excitement, you win balls when you shouldn’t be winning balls, you get into the game,” Charlton said to About the style of Ireland. “A lot of specialists didn’t like it, but the teams we played against hated it. They had never experienced anything like what we told them … We were up to anyone in the world. “
Charlton said his best memory as coach of Ireland was to beat Brazil 1-0 in a friendly match at Lansdowne Road in 1987. He resigned in 1995 after losing in the Euro qualifiers 1996 against the Netherlands.
“It changed everything in Irish football because there was a stage where we didn’t qualify for the tournaments,” said former Liverpool and Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton on Saturday. “Jack came in and changed that mentality, allowed us to cross two World Cups and a European Championship. His legacy in Ireland is absolutely huge. ”
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He obtained honorary Irish citizenship a year later. A life-size statue of him was erected at Cork Airport, depicting him carrying fishing gear and holding a salmon – reminiscent of Charlton’s favorite fishing pastime.
“I’m as much Irish as English,” said Charlton, who got freedom from Dublin.
Born May 8, 1935, in a gravelly region of northern England, Charlton worked in the mines as a teenager before going to trial in Leeds. He grew up in a family of footballers, cousin of the great Jackie Milburn of Newcastle while his uncles Jack, George, Jimmy and Stan all played professionally. “It left me with no choice but to be a footballer,” said Charlton.